Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Fangirling: Slings & Arrows Edition

 A few things before we get to the carnage of my dignity that will hopefully frame the events that so recently took place:

1: I am a Shakespeare nerd, and attend a free Shakespeare workshop, called The Shakespeare Forum, every Tuesday at 8 pm.

2: Like any Shakespeare nerd worth their salt, I have a deep love (and the complete box set of) Slings&Arrows, the three-season Canadian television show starring Paul Gross, Martha Burns and Mark McKinney and featuring such talents as Sarah Polley and Rachel MacAdams, which follows the misadventures of a Shakespeare Festival helmed by a former actor who has suffered a mental breakdown and sees the ghost of his former mentor while he tries to wrangle cats make a theater company work.

3: I spent last Sunday at home in pajamas convelescing and watching the entire series start to finish.

Which brings us to Monday.

Monday, after a very long day at the office, I bundled up and prepared to trudge out into the cold. I double checked all the email accounts, turned off all the lights, and then loitered for no particular reason in our foyer, tidying things and tying my hair back before I left. I waited for the world's slowest elevator, got on, and exited onto the street.

Directly in front of me were two women of rather small stature, bundled up and chatting. I did not see either of their faces nor could I hear a single word of their conversation, but somehow my radar went off. Trying not to look lik the world's most epic creeper, with my scarf bundled around my face and my black trenchcoat wrapped up tight, I attempted to get a peek of the woman on the left's face. Possibly sensing she was being peered at, she glanced over her shoulder at me-

And I had an immediate and severe internal freak out. It was Martha Burns, who plays the indomitable and insufferable and brilliant actress Ellen Fanshaw in the above mentioned show.

I was then faced with a conundrum that my severely S&A addled brain could not successfully tackle. I could quietly spazz and follow them until I had to peel off for the subway, or I could Be That Person and say something.

But what were the odds? Really? What were the odds of my watching a show that is a real touchstone for me, a reminder of why I want to do what I do, and what I want to do, at the tail end of possibly the most discouraging and hellaciously stressful month of my life and the very next day finding myself all but face to face with one of its greatest components.

So I said, to their backs, "Excuse me, I know this is atrociously rude and invasive, I'm so sorry, but- Are you Martha Burns?"

At which point Ms. Burns turned, somewhat surprised, and said "Yes."

I immediately began the process of making an ass out of myself.

I told her it was uncanny, because I just the day before showed my friend the show for the first time, at which point her companion turned and it was Susan Coyne.

Series creator and writer and co-star, Susan Coyne. I yelped aloud and clapped my hands over my mouth while they watched with polite bemusement as I said things like "Oh my God, I love you both! You're such wonderful actors! I'm sorry, I'm so flustered, I never do this, but- I love you!"

They then opened up the line they were standing so I could WALK BETWEEN THEM as they CONTINUED DOWN THE STREET. I was so frazzled I could scarcely put two words together, and yet I managed to babble incoherently at them for quite some distance. I asked them if they were in town for a show, and they told me no, they were attending a Shakespeare workshop at the Michael Howard studio, which is directly next to my place of work. They asked me if I was in the theater, and I asked them if it was that obvious. They were amused.

At the end of the block, I could have followed them down the way they were going. I should have done so and tried to recover, to tell them about the forum I attend and invite them to please email me if THEY were ever hosting seminars or workshops, for acting or writing or anything at all, in the city. But I was so mortified by my flailing and gushing that I merely bid them congratulations on having created such a wonderful and enduring show and wished them a good night.

Then I called @erinlaurel8 and absolutely lost my shit in the middle of Madison Square Park.

It was a strange incident- the unlikelihood of running into those two actresses together outside my place of work, at that particular point in the evening, on the last day of the terrible month of January- and I have had no choice but to take it as a sign. Here are two tremendous, marvelous actresses, actively working on their craft, walking around like normal people. It was such a moment of geek joy, I had to- after calling, texting, IMing and tweeting at everyone I know- write it up on the blog, because.... Fangirling. Fangirling all over the place. In public.

I'm still happy about it. Even though I didn't even introduce myself UGH RUDE I WAS SO FLUSTERED blast it all.

If you haven't, pick up Slings&Arrows. Or a Complete Works. And if you see them wandering around, please tell them to call me, I have a group of young Shakespearean actors who are dying to buy them a drink.


Karabou said...

Now that you know where their workshop is you have a decent shot at meeting up with them again!

KimberlyFDR said...

That is a fantastic chance encounter! I adore Slings and Arrows (and, yes, I am a big fan of Paul Gross aka Martha's husband;) I have seen S&A probably five times through and I'll always watch it again whenever it re-runs on television or I get the urge to pull out my own copies.

Erica said...

That is awesome! I love S&A.

Nimble said...

I am halfway through the 2nd season now and so in love. Found your post when I search for 'big fan S&A'. Thanks for sharing the squee! So smart, satisfyingly theatrical and soapy. Happy sigh